My first patch was found on the 25th of July 2012 and on Halloween of that year I took the decision to shave the rest of my hair off (while raising money for Alopecia UK)!
The first few months of my 'alopecia journey' I found incredibly hard. My doctors didn't know very much and I got next to no support from them. I was scared, lonely and had no idea what was going on or what was happening. I eventually found a support network (The Scottish Alopecia Support Group) and I met a few of the ladies through Daniel Regans alopecia project. It was very strange sitting in a room with people who were similar to me, listening to all their different stories. One thing I have learnt is that no alopecia story is the same. Our hair falls out in different patterns and at speeds. Mine for example has been slow, it nearly all fell out then came back in. However a month later I started losing it again along with my body hair.
The first time I properly spent any length of time with people in the same situation as me was when I travelled down to Liverpool to take part in a Flash mob. It was an overwhelming experience, and a strange one too. Spending time with people who understood the fear, the anger, the sadness but also some happiness alopecia can make you feel. After that weekend I left with so much confidence but it wasn't long until that was tested when my right eyebrow started falling out just before Christmas 2013.
I always said since I started losing my hair that I could cope with losing all my hair except my eyelashes/eyebrows. It really took me by surprise as I was told my eyebrows shouldn't be affected, but I managed to get over it with the help of some amazing people around me and I saw the positives of only having one eyebrow. Just as my confidence was on a high again, my left one started coming out in the same pattern. This pushed me to my limits and I started losing every little bit of confidence I managed to gain. I got angry when I couldn't draw them on nicely and ended up in tears nearly every day.
I have slowly built up my confidence and I'm starting to get better at drawing them on but it's such a hassle that I sometimes go without. I have had fair few negative comments in the last 2 years and a lot of people assume I have cancer, one of the worse situations has been when I got offered medicine to make me better. I am starting to understand that alopecia isn't well known and that is why people assume I have cancer. The main reason I have taken part in the calendar is to help raise more awareness and help people understand alopecia. I am proud of who I am and I don't like "hiding" behind wigs but I do understand some people need them and struggle to go out without wearing a wig. We are all different. All cope differently and all have different stories. Alopecia has made me into a better person, I don't know how or why but it has definitely changed me for the better. I have made some fantastic friends along the way and without all the support I wouldn't be as confident as I am.
It's okay to be different and it's okay to be yourself. It's just having the confidence to stand up and say "I am different" with a smile.